Why I’ll Be More Open About Sex Ed With My Kids Than My Parents Were With Me

by Howard Rudnick
20th Century Fox

Sex is a very touchy subject. It makes people uncomfortable, it turns them on and it grosses them out. Everyone reacts to sex differently. Sex is one of the most natural habits human beings partake in. Whether it's done frequently or sparsely, with a partner or solo, it's an act that is meant to be respected and enjoyed.

Unfortunately, sex has been stigmatized for countless reasons, and it often gives young people poor perceptions and brings about misconceptions that turn into trends and dangerous outcomes (STDs). If sex is taught the right way — in an open and honest conversation between parent and child, educator and student — future generations will be a lot better off than those that came before them.

In my household, we never had "the talk." It's not that my parents didn't want to, but it happened to be that my parents knew I was smart enough to learn on my own (hello Internet) and through the public education system. As cringeworthy as it may be to talk to your parents about sex, if they're not the ones teaching you about it, it should come from another individual who is "authoritative," but also makes you feel comfortable and trusting.

I think about my future and my future children, and I know that I have to be the one who has the tough conversations with them in regards to sex and all that comes along with it. My sex education was "The Real World," the Internet, health class and whatever movies I could watch without getting caught. It was that combination of craftiness and wanting to feel "adult" that also gave me unrealistic expectations about what sex really was.

As a parent, you're the gatekeeper of knowledge for your children. You determine what they learn, what they absorb and how they're molded. Yes, they're going to be with their peers and their older siblings who are going to give them misinformation, but it should be the parents' responsibility to teach their children about "the birds and the bees."

With sex, it's not about the physical acts, but it's about what comes with the acts mentally. Sex is not only a physical thing between two people. It's a mental bond that can stay behind once the sexual act is over.

I would want my children to understand that yes, they can engage in intercourse or other sexual acts, but once they've achieved an orgasm, they have to think about the other person as well. They have to think about whether the other person felt comfortable, if the other person was treated properly and if they would engage in that behavior again.

With the rise of sexual assaults and the outpouring of resources and voices speaking up and educating young men and women about consent, I want my children to understand that sex is based on mutual consent. As a father, I want my future son to treat a woman with respect, and I want him to respect her body and her decision to either engage in sexual intercourse with him or to reject the intercourse.

No means no. As a future father to a daughter, I want my daughter to feel proud to say no and to feel proud to know she has a choice. What she does with her body and whom she shares it with is her decision, and she shouldn't be afraid or ashamed. My children need to know they're the ones who are in control.

What I knew about sex as a teenager was far more juvenile compared to what I know now as a 25-year-old. My sexual education has grown to be a lot more vast and specific.

When children ask their parents about sex or witness something on television or in the movies that they maybe shouldn't have, the parents have a choice right then and there to decide what kind of parents they want to be. They can either shelter their child and ignore it and make up a story, or they can make an educated decision to speak with their child and put it in terms the child can understand.

Sex can not — and should not — be a topic that is ignored, brushed under the rug or made a mockery of. Sex is ever-present in today's society, and parents need to be the ones to prepare their kids for healthy sexual futures.